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Bunnahabhain SMWS 10.118 Enthralling pink and peat intensity

Peat, Smoke, and Port from Bunnahabhain

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@VictorReview by @Victor

27th Nov 2018


Bunnahabhain SMWS 10.118 Enthralling pink and peat intensity
  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

My deep thanks I give to @bwmccoy for the reviewed sample. SMWS 10.118 was matured for 9 years in a bourbon hogshead, followed by 1 year in a "1st fill" Port barrique. Distillation date: 1 December 2006. 257 bottles were produced

Colour: pale chardonnay, with maybe the slightest hint of pink

Body: medium, silky, and astringent

Nose: intense, yet high-pitched, fine, and elegant sweet barley, acrid and sweet peat and smoke, and very dry port wine influence. This is quite delicious and very entertaining. The sweet/dry balance is wonderful, and is like a vacillating kaleidoscope, cycling back and forth the individual flavours of grain, peat, and wine. There is a little oak influence if you look for it too, but only a little. Brine? That too, but only a little. This is a nose I can enjoy for a long period of time. With water added a mellow bundled concoction is formed, which is different, but also very nice. Score: 23.5/25 points neat; with water 22.5/25

Taste: the peat grows very big upon the delivery and just keeps building in the mouth. The port wine is also very strong in the mouth, but it is the peat which dominates. The barley ducks for cover, and the wood is nowhere to be seen. This is highly entertaining, and, for peated whisky lovers, a big treat. The palate moves strongly toward the bitter side, and so, is not as balanced as is the nose. Still, if you like the peaty/smokey style, this is delicious. With water added, the wine gains strength and the peat and smoke recede somewhat. A lovely and quite different palate with water added. Score: 23/25 neat; 22.5/25 with water added

Finish: the peat and smoke remain dominant, but the wine continues to be in evidence as well. The finish with water added ends in heavy peat combined with the port wine. Score: 22/25 neat; 22/25 with water added

Balance: excellent in the nose, fair to good on the palate, fair on the finish. Score: 20.5/25 neat; 21/25 with water added. Water added smooths the edges but reduces the complexity. .

Total Sequential Score: 89 points neat; 88 points with water


Strength: strong flavours on the nose; very strong flavours thereafter. Score: 24.5/25 points

Quality: very good grain quality, though it is only slightly in evidence; good-to-very good quality of the peat and port wine flavours. Score: 22/25 points

Variety: excellent variety in the nose, neat; very good variety of flavours in the mouth. Score: 23.5/25 neat; variety goes down greatly with water added

Harmony: fabulous harmony in the nose; very good harmony on the palate, neat; fair-to-good harmony on the finish. Score: 23/25 points

Total Non-Sequential Score: 93 points neat; perhaps 88 points with water added


Comment: as a Big Flavours Lover I am always partial to high flavour high ABV whiskies of all types, as long as the quality of flavours is good. If this SMWS 10.188 Enthralling Pink and Peat Intensity were bottled at 43% I'd probably score it at 84 points. Am I Enthralled by the Pink colour? No, it's just really a hint of pink that I see. But the Peat Intensity part is for real, and the overall effect is delicious

Related Bunnahabhain reviews


BlueNote commented

Wow, I like the sound of this one. I’ll be talking to my friend who is a society member to see if he can get hold of a bottle. Probably long gone as these outturns are limited. Very helpful and informative as usual @Victor.

5 years ago 3Who liked this?

fiddich1980 commented

@BlueNote The Strathcona Spirit Shop in Victoria, BC., carries SMWS bottlings. While pricing in BC is on the expensive, you can contact them and ask.

5 years ago 3Who liked this?

MadSingleMalt commented

Drool cleanup in aisle 3.

5 years ago 2Who liked this?

talexander commented

This sounds fantastic. Last night I tried a port-finished Arran that was very pink - almost like a rose wine - that was surprisingly good (I'm very hit-and-miss on any finished whisky). This sounds like it has mastered the tricky balance between a wine-finish and peat.

5 years ago 1Who liked this?

bwmccoy commented

@Victor - Thanks also for this review. I am pleased that we rated this one very closely as well. I gave it a 92. Sadly, my bottle is long gone, but I would not be upset if this was the only whisky that I could ever drink again, assuming that there was an unlimited supply. :-) I love the combination of peat and port, even more so than peat and sherry, which as you know, is awesome to me. The port and peat combo is just much harder to find than sherry and peat.

5 years ago 1Who liked this?

Victor commented

@bwmccoy yes, indeed, SMWS 10.118 is an outstanding bottle. This is the sort of bottle that one might wish to have half a dozen more in storage...or 300 more bottles of it if it will be the only bottle you will drink for the rest of your life.

5 years ago 1Who liked this?

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